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Russell Malone's first guitar was a plastic green toy his mother bought him. Only four years old, Malone strummed the little guitar all day long for days on end trying to emulate the sounds he had heard from guitarists at church in Albany, Georgia. As a child, Malone developed an interest in blues and country music after seeing musicians on television like Chet Atkins, Glen Campbell, Johnny Cash, Roy Clark, Son Seals, and B.B. King. Then, at age 12, he saw George Benson perform with Benny Goodman on Soundstage. Malone has said, “I knew right then and there that I wanted to play this music.”
Malone is one of the most commanding and versatile guitarists performing. He moves from blues to gospel to pop to R&B and jazz without hesitation, a rare facility that has prompted some of the highest profile artists in the world to call upon him: Diana Krall, Gladys Knight, Aretha Franklin, B.B. King, Natalie Cole, David Sanborn, Shirley Horn, Christina Aguilera, Harry Connick, Jr, Ron Carter, and Sonny Rollins.
Along the way, Malone has made a name for himself combining the bluesy sound of Grant Green and Kenny Burrell with the relentless attack of Django Reinhardt and Pat Martino. After hearing Malone play in Connick's band, former Sony head, Tommy Mottola, brought Malone over to Columbia. Malone's self-titled debut, Russell Malone, in 1992 quickly went to #1 on the radio charts.
Russell Malone was quickly followed by his second album, Black Butterfly in 1993, with Paul Keller on Bass, who later became his trio mate with Diana Krall. Diana Krall's label, Verve Records, came calling next and released three albums by Malone: Sweet Georgia Peach (1998), Look Who's Here (2000), and Heartstrings (2001). Heartstrings features a full orchestra with arrangements by Johnny Mandel, Don Caymmi, and Alan Broadbent, accompanied by the all-star rhythm section team of Kenny Barron (piano), Christian McBride (bass), and Jeff “Tain” Watts (drums).
Malone joined Diana Krall in 1995, contributing to Krall's first four Grammy-nominated albums. For the past year or so, Malone has had the honor and privilege of playing in tenor titan Sonny Rollins’ band.
This performance by a great guitarist is not to be missed!
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